Brent Pope believes that Joe Schmidt will announce that he is leaving the Ireland job after the 2019 Rugby World Cup - and that he will return home to succeed Steve Hansen as New Zealand head coach.
Speaking on RTÉ2 after Ireland's 57-14 win over USA in the final game of the November series, Pope said that there is a widespread belief in New Zealand that Hansen was soon going to announce he is leaving after the World Cup and says that Schmidt's is the name "on everybody's lips."
The panel on Schmidt's future— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) November 24, 2018
"He's from New Zealand, he grew up wanting to play for the All Blacks like everybody, the next step was wanting to coach the All Blacks. He has an opportunity to do that and I think he'll take it" pic.twitter.com/JqOmo83tOo
Pope, who was initially selected for New Zealand's 1987 Rugby World Cup winning squad before injury intervened, said Schmidt, "like everybody" would have grown up wanting to play for New Zealand.
The next step was coaching the All-Blacks and Pope said he expected Schmidt to take the opportunity in 2019 lest it not come around again for another decade.
"The last two New Zealand coaches - Graham Henry and Steve Hansen - have hung around for two World Cups. Joe's got to say, if not now, when?
"Because if somebody else steps into that All Blacks job and they win the World Cup, he might be waiting around for another ten years.
"He's from New Zealand, he grew up wanting to play for the All Blacks like everybody, the next step was wanting to coach the All Blacks. He has an opportunity I think to do that and I think he'll take it.
"It's not a shoo-in because they've got pay some respect to Ian Foster (New Zealand assistant coach) and these guys who've done nothing wrong under Hansen's guidance.
"I just think Joe Schmidt's name has been the one that has been bandied around (and that's) before beating the All Blacks.
"Joe's name came up around a few years ago when he was at Leinster. Since then, beating the All Blacks in Chicago, winning the Grand Slam, beating the All Blacks again. Yes, his name is on everybody's lips."